This is the first Wisdom Wander of the 2016 Walking the Ways of the Summer Light series. The focus is on the element of earth.
To focus on the earth element, I offer these inspirations that expand on my general suggestions and are specific to the earth element. These are only prompts for your own creating and modification.
Of course, it’s great to be able to set aside a day in nature for exploring, but, if you don’t have the time or can’t get away, a walk to work in the city or taking out the garbage at night could become an Earth Wisdom Wander with a set intention and perhaps a few extra steps.
PREPARE FOR AN EARTH ENCOUNTER
Take a moment to ponder your connection and understanding of the element of earth. What do you know about the earth? What do you feel about the earth? What lessons might the earth offer you? What might you receive from some time spent with earth? What gifts can you offer to earth?
Select the spot that will help you connect with the earth element. The elements are all around us so this doesn’t have to be a new place for you. Nature awareness training programs often suggest that you find a special spot that you return to over and over again as a stable home base, as a place you can observe change. But going to a new place is also an option. The newness can invite an opening of the senses as you explore the unfamiliar.
Invite your Way Showers / Guides / Inquisitors / Translators for the Day: If working with a Tarot deck, you may want to pull your cards from just the suit of Earth / Pentacles or some combination of the Earth suit and the Major Arcana. As I see each Major Arcana as an image of Wholeness, I work with the idea that each individual Major card contains the power of all the elements.
For my 2015 Earth Wisdom Wander, I worked with the Oracle of Initiation and The Minoan Tarot by Ellen Lorenzi-Prince. I had sorted out the Majors and Earth suit cards, and only Majors appeared. Yes, it felt like major wisdom was being offered to me.
Grounding and centering is a good start to any elemental wander and particularly vital for an earth-focused wander. Starhawk’s ideas for Open-Eyed Grounding in The Earth Path are appropriate for wandering in nature. She defines grounding as “being relaxed but alert, energetically connected to earth but able to move, present and aware, in a state in which we can take in information and make conscious choices about what we do” (P.53). Here is my summary of her suggested steps:
- Stand with eyes open and feet about shoulder-width apart and knees bent. Breathe and feel the breath circulating. Tune into your feet and feel how they are supported by the ground.
- Imagine that you have roots coming from your feet and going down into the ground. Feel the energy of earth come up your roots and move through your body. Enjoy the support. Enjoy the flow of energy that you are actually feeling or imagining flowing through you.
- If thoughts distract you from being present to earth arise as you wander, you can send them down through the roots that connect you earth. The earth loves to compost no longer needed garbage.
- You will need to move your feet to wander, but you can hold on to the sensation or imagine that the roots are moving with you. They are flexible and movable, adding spring to your step.
- Start moving slowly. Let each rise and return of your foot connect to the earth. How does your connection to earth feel the same or different from your normal walking?
OBSERVE THE EARTH ELEMENT
What belongs to the earth? What belongs to other elements? You won’t need to and won’t be able to ignore the presence of fire, water, and air. All the elements mix to make our dynamic world. You can tune your attention to what seems to you to be most elementally earth. Starhawk’s The Earth Path, again, offers guidance. Pay particular attention to:
- Ground and what you are walking on whether it be the duff of the forest floor or the cement of a city side walk.
- Rocks. These most solid of nature’s offerings perhaps come quickly to mind around the element of earth. How big is the rock you are seeing: boulder, pebble, sand? What has been happening with slow changing rocks in your area?
- Soil. Our food comes from dirt. What is going on with the dirt that you discover?
- Growth. What is growing and how much of it?
- Decay. What is passing away? How is this decay treated or greeted?
- Seeds. Do you see them or evidence of their existence?
- Fungi. So much of what we call mushrooms grows below the surface in an interconnected web. What can you glimpse of that web?
- Bones. What bones are present? Can you see them? Maybe only your own will be out and moving around.
- Plants and Trees. What is growing around you? And how do they grow together in communities of support?
And as you exploring pay attention to your whole body. How does it feel to move in the environment? As you connect with what you are paying attention to, where do you feel this in your body?
REFLECTION AND QUESTION MAKING
I appreciate Starhawk’s guidance on seeking earth wisdom because, while she clearly is in love with the natural world, she tells us that she didn’t come to this connection naturally. She grew up in an apartment and didn’t garden or study ecology. She’s not the fittest person in the world. But she suggest that these “weaknesses” can be strengths because it helps her – and we who would emulate her – to be curious and wonder about what is happening instead of knowing and coming to a quick answer. The first of her nine ways of observing nature come from this place of not knowing and instead wondering. You might wonder why particular plants grow close together or how anything can grow on rock.
These wonderings, perhaps recorded as you are out on your wander, can be prompts from some research into the workings of nature. You can also use your wonderings in a way similar to how you might use a Tarot or oracle image by looking at what it says about you, your curiosities and longings, and what you are open to exploring. The questions you craft might be the ones that you take on your pilgrimage on the other side of the Solstice.
My encounters with bees and dragonflies in 2015 had me wondering:
What is the link between the seen and unseen realms?
How does communication flow between these realms?
What is my role in facilitating communication between these realms?
As you wander you may receive messages, either for you as an individual or for the collective. You may receive images that speak louder than words. You may experience a sensation that isn’t easily explained. You may feel called to share what you receive. Perhaps the earth will share a message through you. Please do that sharing in what ever way feels right; tell a story to a friend, post on Facebook, write something for your blog, whisper some to the moon. Social media mavens, you may want to use hash tags of #wisdomwander #earth for tracking. Your comments here on the blog are welcome as well.